Managing hazardous manual tasks checklist guide 2018 – supermarkets and grocery stores
More than one third of the workers compensation claims in NSW are musculoskeletal disorders and the majority of these are caused by performing hazardous manual tasks. Over 6000 of these claims are within the supermarket and grocery store industry and caused by tasks such as handling of loads and pushing/pulling of trolleys.
Hazardous manual tasks
Manual tasks cover a wide range of activities that involve using the body to move or hold an object, people or animals. Examples of manual tasks include: stacking shelves, scanning items at checkouts and standing for a prolonged period of time. Not all manual tasks are hazardous. It is therefore necessary to identify those tasks that are hazardous and ensure they are adequately managed.
What is a hazardous manual task?
A hazardous manual task requires a person to lift, lower, push, pull, carry or otherwise move, hold or restrain any person, animal or thing involving one or more of the following:
- repetitive or sustained force
- high or sudden force
- repetitive movement
- sustained or awkward posture
- exposure to vibration.
What are musculoskeletal disorders?
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) include injuries such as sprains and strains of muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints.
MSDs most commonly occur from gradual wear and tear to these parts of the body while performing hazardous manual tasks. Parts of the body that are commonly affected in the supermarket and grocery store industry include the back, shoulder, wrist, knee and hand.
How do I manage the risks from hazardous manual tasks?
As a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU, or employer) you must manage risks to health and safety relating to MSDs that are associated with hazardous manual tasks (Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017).
To manage risk, a PCBU must:
- identify hazards that could give rise to the risk
- eliminate the risk so far as is reasonably practicable
- if not reasonably practicable to eliminate the risk, minimise the risk by implementing control measures (actions and/or activities that are taken to prevent, eliminate or reduce the potential of exposure to a hazard) in accordance with the Hierarchy of Control
- maintain the control measures so that it remains effective
- review risk control measures.
An overview of the risk management process for manual tasks is provided in Appendix A of the Code of Practice – Hazardous Manual Tasks.
Talking to your workers
As a PCBU, you are required by law to consult with your workers who may be affected, or likely to be affected by any hazardous manual task. It is also a great way to improve and maintain health and safety in your workplace.
You must consult with your workers when:
- identifying hazards and assessing risks
- deciding on control measures to eliminate or minimise risks
- developing and reviewing of policies and procedures
- proposing changes that may affect the health and safety of your workers.
Common risk factors of hazardous manual tasks
The most common risk factors that you may come across in hazardous manual tasks performed by supermarket and grocery store workers include:
- handling of heavy, bulky or awkward loads
- twisting of the back, neck or upper body
- reaching and load handling at low levels and/or above shoulder height
- repetitive movements
- inadequate task variety or breaks
- working under time pressures
- movement constraints due to working in environments with limited space.
Source of the risks
The risks of hazardous manual tasks in supermarket and grocery stores come from a range of sources including:
- design and layout of work areas – for example storage of heavy items on high or low shelves
- the nature of the item, equipment or tools - eg trolleys that are not appropriate for the task or are poorly maintained making them difficult to push/pull
- the nature of the load (including heavy boxes, bulky or awkward stock)
- the working environment – for example cool temperatures in freezers or cool rooms
- systems of work, work organisation and work practices – for example repetitive tasks, inadequate breaks or task variety, unreasonable time frames/workload.
Controlling the risks – hierarchy of control
Eliminate the hazard
Using automated equipment to move stock rather than manually moving stock. Options include:
Re-design, modify or substitute
Tasks can be redesigned, modified, altered or substituted to minimise the risk of hazardous manual tasks. Risks associated with hazardous manual tasks can be reduced by modifying the:
Work area and layout
Items, equipment and tools
|Systems of work, organisations and practices|
Managing hazardous manual tasks checklist – supermarket and grocery stores
The checklist is designed to be completed by the PCBU representative (store manager) and worker representatives (cashier/customer service and grocery/stock hand/night fill) together.
This checklist is not designed to be an audit tool; rather a checklist to identify areas of improvement in the current system of work at store level. If you identify any issues or concerns during this process, please ensure a risk management approach is followed such as: identify the hazards associated with the task, assess the risk, control the risk and review if the control is effective.
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